Dental Paleobiology in a Juvenile Neanderthal (Combe-Grenal, Southwestern France)

María Dolores Garralda*, Steve Weiner, Baruch Arensburg, Bruno Maureille, Bernard Vandermeersch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Combe-Grenal site (Southwest France) was excavated by F. Bordes between 1953 and 1965. He found several human remains in Mousterian levels 60, 39, 35 and especially 25, corresponding to MIS 4 (~75–70/60 ky BP) and with Quina Mousterian lithics. One of the fossils found in level 25 is Combe-Grenal IV, consisting of a fragment of the left corpus of a juvenile mandible. This fragment displays initial juvenile periodontitis, and the two preserved teeth (LLP4 and LLM1) show moderate attrition and dental calculus. The SEM tartar analysis demonstrates the presence of cocci and filamentous types of bacteria, the former being more prevalent. This result is quite different from those obtained for the two adult Neanderthals Kebara 2 and Subalyuk 1, where more filamentous bacteria appear, especially in the Subalyuk 1 sample from Central Europe. These findings agree with the available biomedical data on periodontitis and tartar development in extant individuals, despite the different environmental conditions and diets documented by numerous archeological, taphonomical and geological data available on Neanderthals and present-day populations. New metagenomic analyses are extending this information, and despite the inherent difficulties, they will open important perspectives in studying this ancient human pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1352
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Combe-Grenal
  • juvenile
  • mandible
  • Neanderthal
  • periodontitis
  • SEM analysis
  • tartar
  • tooth


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